‘Hegel’s Phenomenology: Dialogues on the Life of Mind’ by Jacob Loewenberg

Published by Open Court Publishing Company in 1965.


One of the classics in the 1960s in Hegel’s scholarship, an original analysis, cast in dialogue form.

In recent years, Hegel has been receiving attention from American philosophers, including Robert Brandom and Robert Pippin. For much of the 20th century, Hegel and his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit were little studied in the United States, given the prevalence of analytical philosophy and positivism. Jacob Loewenberg was one of the few American philosophers who devoted serious attention to Hegel during the years from the end of WW I through the mid-1960s. Loewenberg (1882 — 1969) immigrated to the United States in his early 20s and went on to study Hegel and receive a PhD in philosophy under Josiah Royce at Harvard. He taught at the University of California Berkeley for much of his career.

In 1929, Loewenberg published a book of selections from Hegel which was used widely in American universities. In 1965, age 83, Loewenberg published his book Hegel’s Phenomenology: Dialogues on the Life of the Mind, a study of Hegel’s forbidding Phenomenology of Spirit. In his memoir Thrice-Born: Selected Memories of an Immigrant, Loewenberg described his long-delayed project of writing a study of the Phenomenology. Referring to himself in the third person, Loewenberg wrote,

“What kept him back from uttering it was the difficulty of hitting upon a suitable mode of procedure. He was reluctant to write an erudite commentary. For the exacting labor of exegesis, involving close attention to technical minutae, he had neither taste nor talent. What he aspired to was a task no less exacting, namely the task of capturing the spirit of a work notorious for being bewildering in matter and forbidding in manner.” (“Thrice-Born”, p. 187)

In his memoir, Loewenberg also succinctly explained the view of the Phenomenology he would present in his book. “It was his aim, without tracing the work to its historical roots, to represent it as a sort of chronicle, Homeric in scale, of man’s spiritual odyssey. Here, he held, may be found generically portrayed the multiform career of human consciousness.” (“Thrice-Born”, p.188)

Loewenberg’s book on the Phenomenology is written in the form of a dialogue between two friends, Hardith and Meredy. (Years earlier, Loewenberg had written a book, Dialogues from Delphi on the philosophy of art with these individuals as the interlocutors.) Hardith is shown in the Loewenberg’s Phenomenology as an educated layman who is not a specialist in Hegel’s book while Meredy is a Hegel scholar and probably is more representative of Loewenberg. Hegel’s book is discussed and debated from various perspectives by the two friends.

The book recognizes the notorious difficulty of Hegel in terms of thought, method, language, and every other way. It describes the Phenomenology is perhaps the most difficult of the classical works of philosophy to understand. Thus the book does not discuss the formidable technicalities of the Phenomenology, but instead tries to present in the discussion between friends and understanding of what the book tries to do, of why it is important, and of how it may be deemed to succeed or fail in its aims. Loewenberg’s book is difficult enough in itself, but its aim is to provide a point of entry to the Phenomenology much more than a full commentary for Hegel scholars.

The book consists of 26 chapters which follow the sequence of the Phenomenology from its celebrated Preface through the book’s end. The book is organized in four parts paralleling the Phenomenology under the headings “Consciousness”, “Self-Consciousness”, “Reason”, and “Spirit”.

‘Hegel’s Quest for Certainty’ by Joseph C. Flay

Published by State University of New York Press in 1985.


In a major contribution to Hegel scholarship, Professor Flay has written two books in one. The first is a close and original reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit and the second, an invaluable source book containing a bibliography (more than 450 titles) and footnotes which discuss in detail the secondary resource material.

The main strength of Flay’s analysis which sets him apart from most others is his correct and firm grasp of the architectonic of the Phenomenology as an introduction to the Hegelian system.

Joseph C. Flay is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University.

‘Samuel Beckett and the Meaning of Being: A Study in Ontological Parable’ by Lance St. John Butler

Published by St. Martin’s Press in 1984.


The easiest thing of all is to pass judgement on what has a solid substantial content; it is more difficult to grasp it and most of all difficult to do both together and produce the systematic exposition of it.

—Georg W. F. Hegel

Since at least 1960 there has been a great deal of critical attention paid to Beckett. Besides the many articles, reviews, chapters and paragraphs, by 1980 more than sixty books had been published devoted exclusively to him. A lot of this critical work has been of the highest standard and certainly it is hard to imagine how a serious appreciation of Beckett would be able to develop without some of it.

At the heart of his writing there is an inescapable mass of involvement with the fundamental issues of existence that has yet to be dealt with adequately. This study intends to attack this central core of Beckett’s work by associating it with the discipline which, by definition, operates in the same area — philosophy. This will demonstrate one way of reading Beckett and may at the same time show how far philosophical analogy can illuminate a writer . . .

‘Spirit’s Philosophical Bildung: Image and Rhetoric in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit and Science of Logic’ by Daniel Horace Fernald

Published by University Press of America in 2004.


This work focuses on the role played by rhetoric and images in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, and in the transition to his Science of Logic. Daniel Horace Fernald argues that the rhetoric and imagery of the Phenomenology constitute the work’s substance. His conclusion shows the entire Phenomenology to be an aporia, an impasse designed to teach the central lesson that the True, which is the Whole, is not to be found in phenomenal experience alone. Understanding the structure of Phenomenology is essential in the transition to Science of Logic.

Daniel Horace Fernald holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Emory University. He is Assistant Professor of Philosophy in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Georgia College and State University.

‘Freud and Man’s Soul: An Important Re-Interpretation of Freudian Theory’ by Bruno Bettelheim

Published by Vintage in 1983.


Has Sigmund Freud been seriously misunderstood? The book argues that mistranslation has distorted Freud’s work in English and led students to see a system intended to cooperate flexibly with individual needs as a set of rigid rules to be applied by external authority. This provocative argument cuts through the myths to reveal a greater, more compassionate and also far more disturbing figure.

‘Camera Obscura: Of Ideology’ by Sarah Kofman

Published by Cornell University Press in 1988.


Marx, Freud, Nietzsche―in vastly different ways all three employed the metaphor of the camera obscura in their work. In this classic book―at last available in an English translation―the distinguished French philosopher Sarah Kofman offers an extended reflection on this metaphor. She contrasts the mechanical function of the camera obscura as a kind of copy machine, rendering a mirror-image of the work, with its use in the writings of master thinkers.

In her opening chapter on Marx, Kofman provides a reading of inversion as necessary to the ideological process. She then explores the metaphor of the camera obscura in Freud’s description of the unconscious. For Nietzsche the camera obscura is a “metaphor for forgetting.” Kofman asks here whether the “magical apparatus” of the camera obscura, rather than bringing about clarity, serves some thinkers as fetish. Camera Obscura is a powerful discussion of a metaphor that dominates contemporary theory from philosophy to film.

‘Nietzsche and Metaphor’ by Sarah Kofman

Published by The Athlone Press in 1993.


Winner of the 1994 Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award.

This long-overdue translation brings to the English-speaking world the work that set the tone for the post-structuralist reading of Nietzsche.

The issue of style, of why Nietzsche wrote as he did, is fundamental, on any level, to reading his texts. Some Nietzsche critics (in particular, those, such as Jean Granier, indebted to Heidegger’s reading), in effect translated Nietzsche’s terms back into those of a philosophy of ontology. This book (which includes an appendix specifically directed against the “Heideggerian” reading) shows how such an approach fails to interrogate the precise terms, such as “Nature” or “life”, that Nietzsche used in place of “being,” and to ask the meaning of this substitution.

The author gives not only a reading of Nietzsche’s ideas, but a method for investigating his style. She shows in great detail how it influences both Nietzsche’s ideas and the way in which they are to be understood. In so doing, she exemplifies how post-structuralist methods can be used to open up classical philosophical texts to new readings. She write conceptually in the knowledge that the concept has no greater value than metaphor and is itself a condensation of metaphors, rather than writing metaphorically as a way of denigrating the concept and proposing metaphor as the norm, and thus acknowledges the specificity of philosophy, its irreducibility to any other form of expression—even when this philosophy has nothing traditional about it any longer, even when it is, like Nietzsche’s an unheard-of and insolent philosophy.

Who Comes After the Subject?

Published by Routledge in 1991.


This book is a rare and outstanding thorough foray into a post-humanist future, deconstructing subjectivity in a variety of guises.

Who Comes After the Subject offers the most comprehensive overview to date of contemporary French thinking on the question of the “subject.” Nineteen philosophers and critics offer diverse perspectives on the subject as it has manifested itself in our modern discourses: the subject of philosophy, of the State, of history, of psychoanalysis. Each contribution asks What has become of the subject? or What has the subject become? in the wake of its critiques and deconstructions.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Jean-Luc Nancy
1 Another Experience of the Question, or Experiencing the Question Other-Wise by Sylviane Agacinski
2 On a Finally Objectless Subject by Alain Badiou
3 Citizen Subject by Etienne Balibar
4 Who? by Maurice Blanchot
5 The Freudian Subject, from Politics to Ethics by Mikkel Barch-Jacobsen
6 Voice of Conscience and Call of Being by Jean-Francois Courtine
7 A Philosophical Concept… by Gilles Deleuze
8 “Eating Well,” or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida by Jacques Derrida
9 Apropos of the “Critique of the Subject” and of the Critique of this Critique by Vincent Descombes
10 Being and the Living by Didier Franck
11 Who Comes after the Subject? by Gerard Granel
12 The Critique of the Subject by Michel Henry
13 Love between Us by Luce Irigaray
14 Descartes Entrapped by Sarah Kofman
15 The Response of Ulysses by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe
16 Philosophy and Awakening by Emmanuel Levinas
17 Sensus communis: The Subject in statu nascendi by Jean-Francois Lyotard
18 L’Interloque by Jean-Luc Marion
19 After What by Jacques Ranciere

‘The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud’s Writings’ by Sarah Kofman

Published by Cornell University Press in 1985.


Didn’t Freud himself predict it? Feminists would take to the warpath against his texts, which, on the subject of women, would be seen as rife with masculine prejudice. The woman question has indeed provoked opposition not only from without but from within the very heart of psychoanalysis, has unleashed a veritable internecine war: women analysts are turning psychoanalysis against its founder, accusing him of taking sides, of siding with his sex, because of his sex.

In brief, they say, on the question of woman, a man, even a Freud, cannot produce objective, neutral, scientific discourse: he can only speculate, that is, philosophize, construct a system destined to justify an idee fixe, a tendentious view based not on observation but on self-perception. . .

Speculations After Freud: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy and Culture

Published by Routledge in 1994.


Psychoanalysis has transformed our culture. We constantly use and refer to ideas from psychoanalysis, often unconsciously. Psychology, philosophy, politics, sociology, women’s studies, anthropology, literary studies, cultural studies, and other disciplines have been permeated by the competing schools of psychoanalysis. But what of psychoanalysis itself? Where is it going one hundred years after Freud’s own speculations took shape? Does it still have a role to play in cultural debate, or should it perhaps be abandoned?

Speculations After Freud confronts the dilemmas of contemporary psychoanalysis by bringing together some of the most influential and best known writers on psychoanalysis, philosophy and culture. The advocates and critics of psychoanalysis, both institutional and theoretical, critically appraise the powerful role psychoanalytic speculation plays in all areas of culture.